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A good story
Gloria and Henry share a bathroom at Oxford. Gloria, majoring in feminist poetry, is plagued with OCD while Henry is a lagging personality majoring in music. Their love evolves through all Gloria’s problems with OCD and Henry’s laziness. Van Morrison is their glue: an obsession that at times was over done. I felt the epilogue was so, so unnecessary. Rather a something just hanging without much sense. I liked the book when I could over look VM; it was well researched.
Oxford Messed Up - Delightful literary feast
A moving and poignant tale about two messed up people trying to find true love against a back drop of dead women poets and Van Morrison's optimistically enchanting music.
Amy M. (Brooklyn, NY)
Oxford Messed Up is a smart, compelling book!
On the surface Gloria and Henry look like normal people, much like a brand new record but look deeper and they are really like a used record, scratched one too many times. As the books weaves through a semester of their lives in Oxford they start emanating soulful music.
The book is a literary feast for anyone looking for a contemporary literary fiction. For a first book, the literary allusions are delightfully moving.
Gloria Zimmerman, who suffers from an extreme case of OCD, and Henry Young, a former drug addict, meet at Oxford University when they discover that their dorm rooms share a bathroom. These brilliant people are drawn to one another, recognizing in each other the loneliness and discomfort they both feel in society. Their bond is strengthened by their shared love of the music of Van Morrison. Henry subscribes to the idea of fatalistic optimism he finds in Van Morrison’s music and believes is the answer to Gloria problems. If Gloria and Henry can overcome their fears of commitment and rejection and accept each others' help, they'll have lifelong support and love while navigating life's obstacles. The question is: Are Gloria and Henry willing to take the risk to trust and be vulnerable to each other?
Karen B. (Bethlehem, PA)
Oxford Messed Up
I work in academia and thought I would enjoy this book. I was not disappointed. I probably come into contact with someone like Gloria or Henry regularly. When I started reading the book, I wanted to shake both of them. I wanted Gloria to get counseling, and Henry to clean up his room and his life. I kept reading, and found that it wasn't that simple. Once their families were introduced, I understood more about them. Gloria's mother trained her daughter well in the rituals of OCD. Henry seemed to be looking for attention. When Gloria found out about her roomate, I thought she would contact someone and have her room changed. That she didn't, indicates that she was very timid, or lonely, or both. The interactions between them and the character development were interesting. I did not figure out Henry's secret until just before the author introduced it. It explained a lot about Henry and why he seemed to give up on life, until he met Gloria. I was amazed that two such dysfunctional families could produce two such wonderful young adults. The book was believable, and kept my interest. I'm looking forward to reading more from this author.
Kathy P. (Saratoga, CA)
Oxford Messed Up
A passing thought in early pages was that it was the printer who messed up by publishing this book. That's a joke, but it does start very slowly. The first really interesting thing doesn't happen until the end of Chapter 9! Despite an initial confusion, Kaufman's book is woven cleverly on many levels, and fully comes to life through Gloria and Henry's remarkable friendship in Oxford.
Cindy (Bryan, Texas)
Unusual and Fascinating
At first I was not certain this book was for me; the first few chapters dragged, and the two main characters showed little personality. But Kaufman was being clever, for when Henry and Gloria finally meet in Oxford it reminded me of the first time I saw The Wizard of Oz film go from black/ white to color. Oxford is like Oz. The narrative comes to life here, and we see the witty and delightful sides of H and G. Unfortunately, the climax felt rushed and unrealistic. After a secret had been revealed, I thought the characters were far enough along in their healing to cope; but the reactions of both characters were so primal and intense that I expected any resolution to be far more drawn out and complicated.
Kendra R. (New Orleans, LA)
Engaging love story
I really enjoyed Gloria and Henry's relationship and how they found hidden strength within themselves. Their shared connections left me wanting to read her dead feminist poets and listen to Van Morrison. I had little prior experience with mental illness, but really found this story engaging and appreciated the insight on OCD it gave me.
Pepper E. (Lawrenceville, NJ)
Not messed up at all
Oxford Messed Up is the story of two highly original characters destined to be together. I enjoyed the unique personality of Gloria, who attempts to rise above OCD; and Henry, trying to overcome the chains of remorse from a demonized past. They share a bathroom (loomates) and a devotion to Van Morrison. They believe in each other when paralyzed by their own self-doubt. Add in a supporting cast of wonderful family members with issues and quirks to spare, all set in Oxford's beautiful campuses.
I enjoyed having a glimpse into the challenges faced by someone with OCD. Anyone looking for a sensitive love story with unique characters would enjoy this debut novel—I know I will look for Andrea Kayne Kaufman again!